What was the most thrilling game in World Series history? For sheer momentum-shifting twists and turns, there are really only two choices.
The Bill Mazeroski Game 7 walk-off of 1960 would be the obvious pick of a lot of folks. And it’s an excellent choice. But an equally strong case can be made for a game that did not literally decide the champion, Game 6 of the 2011 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers.
No fewer than three moments from that astonishing Sixth Game rank among the 10 most pivotal Game 6 moments of all time. It is the only game in World Series history with three such top-ten moments.
The standard of measurement is Win Probability Added, a relatively new statistic that calculates the extent to which the play in question influenced the game’s outcome.
One famous Game 6 not included on this list is the 1975 Carlton Fisk game. Fisk’s 12th-inning home run certainly was dramatic, and not merely for the video clip moment. But it ranks only 16th all time for reasons beyond Fisk’s control.
Fisk hit his home run leading off the 12th inning of a tie game. Because Fisk’s Red Sox had last at bats, and because there were none out, the odds of a Red Sox victory (eventually if not then) were already 64 percent when Fisk stepped up the plate. The most he could swing the outcome was 36 percent, which of course he did.
That’s a big deal, but when emotion is removed it’s not a big enough deal to crack the Game 6 top 10. In fact Fisk’s home run wasn’t even the biggest swing point of that evening. More on that momentarily.
You can keep an eye open for installments looking at the 10 most decisive moments from World Series Game 7.
Here are the 10 most decisive moments of Games 6 of the World Series in MLB history
10. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers, 2011. The story of this extraordinary game, won by St. Louis 10-9 in 11 innings, unfolds in three parts. The first of those involves the most frustration for Ranger fans, because it touches upon the fleeting instant when it appeared for all the world that Texas had won the Series.
The Rangers led three-games-to-two and were tied 7-7 when Hamilton, their best offensive threat, came up with one out and Elvis Andrus at first base in the top of the 10th at Busch Memorial Stadium. At that stage, Hamilton was a star, the reigning MVP coming off a 25-homer, 94 RBI season in which he had slugged .536.
Cardinal reliever Jason Motte missed over the heart of the plate with a first pitch fastball, and Hamilton shot that mistake into the second row of the stands in deep right-center field. His two-run home run gave Texas a 9-7 lead and left the Rangers just three outs from that coveted first World Series title. Hamilton Win Probability Added: 43 percent.